Caution: language change ahead

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A group of right-to-die activists is searching for a new word for suicide by conducting an internet poll. They’ve got their work cut out for them.

The results of the survey, which is being promoted on the website of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, could be helpful in shaping a better public image for assisted suicide. (Fill in the survey here, if you like.)

The concern is that the word “suicide” is dismal. It evokes nooses, ovens, bullets, insecticide and 20-storey buildings. When Gallup asked people in 2013 if they approved of doctors "end[ing] the patient's life by some painless means", 70 percent said Yes. When they asked if they approved of doctors helping patients "to commit suicide", that figure dropped to 51 percent. The word "suicide" radiates the baddest of bad vibes. 

To supporters of assisted suicide, a self-chosen but… click here to read whole article and make comments



Waiting for the goalposts to move

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In a 9-0 ruling the Supreme Court of Canada struck down two sections of Canada’s Criminal Code "insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death" in circumstances outlined by the Court. It appears that most or all of the major media outlets understood this to mean that the Court had legalized physician assisted suicide.

In fact, the Court has authorized physicians not only to help eligible patients commit suicide, but to kill them - whether or not they are capable of suicide. The ruling permits both physician assisted suicide and physician administered euthanasia in the case of competent adults who have who have clearly consented to being killed, and who have a grievous irremediable medical condition "including an illness, disease or disability" that causes "enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual."

The Court limited its ruling to the facts of the Carter case, but offered no opinion "on other situations"… click here to read whole article and make comments



Canadians should brace for the coming tsunami

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On February 6, the Supreme Court of Canada found the current prohibitions against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) to be violations of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It charged the Canadian federal government with drafting a law to permit the practice.

Our current majority-Conservative government has actually stood firmly against moving in this direction, and was not alone in its opposition. Only four years ago, in 2010, our Parliament voted 228 to 59 against a Private Member’s Bill to legalize euthanasia.

Despite this, in 12 months, Canada is expected to legalize it and PAS, with all the “necessary safeguards” that sold this solution to pain and suffering of citizens around the world.

On the night of the decision, I couldn’t help but remember the 2004 tsunami that devastated Thailand. Those who were curious and unaware walked out onto the ocean bed to marvel at… click here to read whole article and make comments



Canada’s supreme court strikes down ban on assisted suicide

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In a landmark decision the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday that prohibiting assisted suicide is unconstitutional and a violation of the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada is now the first country outside Europe to legalize assisted suicide. 

The court unanimously affirmed the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal which had struck down the ban and ruled that a woman suffering from ALS, Gloria Taylor, had the right to ask for assistance in dying. Its judgement in what became known as Carter v. Canada stated that it is unconstitutional to deny physician-assisted suicide to:

“a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

The lengthy judgement… click here to read whole article and make comments



Canadian philosopher promotes euthanasia of disabled newborns and infanticide

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Udo Schüklenk, who was the chair of the one-sided Royal Society of Canada: End of Life Decision Making panel and who is also the co-editor of the leading academic journal Bioethics, is now proselytizing his philosophy (or Peter Singer's philosophy) promoting euthanasia of newborns and infanticide. Schüklenk uses quality-of-life arguments to support his eugenic philosophy to encourage the killing of newborns with disabilities.

In an article published in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, titled: Physicians can justifiably euthanize certain severely impaired neonates, Schüklenk argues that some lives are not worth living and that parents should have the right to decide to end the lives of newborns with disabilities. Schüklenk states:

“A quality-of-life ethic requires us to focus on a neonate's current and future quality of life as relevant decision-making criteria. We would ask questions such as: Does this baby have capacity for development… click here to read whole article and make comments



Why not pay commercial providers to assist suicides?

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Assisted suicide is an idea which keeps evolving in unpredictable ways. Who could have foreseen the development of groups of non-doctors which help hundreds of people to die in Switzerland? They are non-profits and charge only for membership and handling fees. But what if companies saw a commercial opportunity in the market for ending one’s life?

Almost everyone finds the notion utterly repugnant, including ardent supporters of assisted suicide. If funeral homes offer creative services for the already dead like drive-through viewing and car-shaped coffins, imagine what tacky deals they would dream up for the about-to-be dead. If you have any doubts about this, check out the options at Golden Gate Funeral Home, an innovative service in Dallas catering for African-Americans. 

Now a bioethicist from the University of Tübingen in Germany has pointed out that “commercially assisted suicide” (CAS) – paying a non-doctor to kill patients – is a logical… click here to read whole article and make comments



Dutch doctors to approve organ donation euthanasia

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Doctors in the Netherlands are working on a scheme to increase the number of life-saving organs available for transplant – by harvesting them from people who want to be euthanased.

Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and the University Hospital of Maastricht have already written national guidelines which are being studied by the Dutch Transplant Foundation.

If the procedures are approved, they would be binding on hospitals and doctors throughout the country.

Spurring on this study is the feeling among transplant surgeons that healthy organs are sometimes wasted when patients are euthanased. In the words of a medical ethics expert with the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), Gert van Dijk, “An estimated 5 to 10% of people who are euthanased could be considered for organ donation. Five percent does not seem like much, but this still means 250 to 500 potential organ donors every year.” He… click here to read whole article and make comments



The mysticism of Swiss assisted suicide

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EXIT: le droit de mourir
Directed by Fermand Melgar.
75 minutes. Subtitles in English and German. 

In the US, UK and Australia, debates on the right to die are always framed in terms of personal autonomy. Choosing death is said to be the ultimate expression of personal freedom. Characteristically, English-speaking euthanasia campaigners focus on pragmatic issues like the time, place and methods of releasing people from physical pain or psychological anguish. The providers of this release are nearly invisible -- shadowy extensions of the patient’s autonomy. 

But there is another side to the right-to-die movement which apparently flourishes in Switzerland, a mystical side with a proselytising spirituality. And if euthanasia were ever legalised in other countries, this is what it might become. A prize-winning 2005 Swiss documentary, Exit: Le Droit de Mourir (Exit: the right to die), reveals the extraordinary philosophy of people who are committed to helping other people… click here to read whole article and make comments



Australian euthanasia doctor battles deregistration

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Philip Nitschke in Darwin  

On Wednesday the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal wrapped up three days of appeal hearings launched by Philip Nitschke, director of the euthanasia lobby group Exit International, against the suspension of his medical registration in July.

The South Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) acted after the media revealed that Nitschke did not try to dissuade a Perth man, Nigel Brayley, from committing suicide. Suicide prevention associations were outraged.

The Medical Board contended that it used its emergency powers to protect vulnerable suicidal people from Mr Nitschke and his "dangerous ideas".

Since 2012 when an officer of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia’s drugs regulator, made a complaint concerning an alleged attempt by Nitschke to import Nembutal, a further 11 formal complaints have been made to the medical watchdog, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

I initiated… click here to read whole article and make comments



What do we know about Brittany Maynard’s death?

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Did Brittany Maynard die freely? This is the question that must be asked after the attractive 29-year-old woman with a brain tumour announced earlier in the week that she would probably postpone the assisted suicide she had scheduled for Saturday, November 1.

"I still feel good enough, and I still have enough joy — and I still laugh and smile with my friends and my family enough — that it doesn't seem like the right time right now," she said in a YouTube video.

Sometime, yes, but not Saturday.

It must have been a bitter pill for Compassion & Choices, the assisted suicide lobby group which had used her as a poster girl for its campaign for legalisation. The members of its boards of directors and advisors are nearly all in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Here was a winsome and articulate woman in her… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at

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